Bears-Seahawks matchups and predictions
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org December 1, 2012 4:48PM
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has thrown at least two touchdown passes in five consecutive games with one interception. | AP
RICK MORRISSEY: 20-17 Seahawks
RICK TELANDER: 24-21 Bears
DAN McGRATH: 24-20 Seahawks
SEAN JENSEN: 20-10 Bears
MARK POTASH: 23-20 Bears
ADAM L. JAHNS: 20-13 Bears
Updated: December 1, 2012 8:12PM
SEAHAWKS AT BEARS
Time: Noon Sunday at Soldier Field.
TV: Fox-32 (Chris Myers, Tim Ryan).
Radio: 780-AM, 105.9-FM.
Line: Bears by 3 1/2.
Total: 37 1/2.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
On the ground
With a patchwork offensive line expected to include new starters at LG (Edwin Williams) and RG (Gabe Carimi), the Bears should be even more committed to establishing a run game and then have a fighting chance. The Seahawks allowed 70 rushing yards per game in the first six games but have allowed 155 per game in their last five — including 189 by a very average Dolphins run game last week. Matt Forte, expected to start despite an ankle injury, and Michael Bush are just waiting for the chance to carry the load. But no matter how hard the Bears try, it always seems to come back to Jay Cutler.
In the air
The Bears will have to tread lightly against a Seahawks defense that sacked the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half on Sept. 24. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice effectively used Jay Cutler’s mobility and accuracy on the run in the victory over the Vikings. The same tack might be useful against a pass defense that ranks third in the NFL (201 yards per game). Devin Hester’s injury could give wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher a chance to contribute. On a team that struggles to get anyone open, Sanzenbacher could be just what Cutler needs.
While Brandon Marshall will be battling Sherman and 6-4 Brandon Browner, it’s Cutler who will have to avoid trying too hard to get the ball to Marshall vs. dangerous CBs. Cutler was tempting fate all day against the Vikes last week.
WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL
On the ground
Marshawn Lynch is third in the NFL with 1,051 yards on 231 carries (4.5 ypc) and 5 TDs. But he’s just another good RB to the Bears. Last year Lynch came in averaging 118 yards in his previous six games and was held to 42 yards on 20 carries, though he did score on rushes of 2 and 3 yards. Lynch had four straight 100-yard games before the Dolphins held him to 46 yards on 19 carries (2.4 ypc) last week. The Bears’ rushing defense has dropped to eighth in the NFL (96.9 ypg), but that includes garbage-time yardage and a quiet 108-yard effort by the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson last week.
In the air
Diminutive QB Russell Wilson (17 TDs, 9 INTs, 93.9 rating) is dangerous because his size make him better, not worse. ‘‘I know that I have to stay tall. I know that I have to have a high, quick release, throw the ball on time,’’ the 5-11 Wilson said. ‘‘I know I have to understand the game and understand the defenses. I think that’s what helps me.’’ With a rookie QB and Sidney Rice (37-524, 6 TDs), Golden Tate (30-390, 6 TDs) and TE Zach Miller (26-301, 1 TD) as his main targets, the Seahawks have a better passing offense than the Bears with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall.
Urlacher is coming off an average performance against the Vikings last week. He’ll be a key factor — can he take advantage of Wilson’s inexperience without getting burned by his inventiveness? It’s tougher than it looks.
With Gabe Carimi starting for injured Lance Louis at RG and Edwin Wiliams starting for injured Chris Spencer at LG, the Bears don’t know what to expect from their makeshift offensive line. But neither do the Seahawks, which might actually give the Bears an advantage. NFL teams are so dependent on knowing what the other team is doing, even changes for the worse can work in your favor — like the White Sox facing a pitcher they’ve never seen before.
Likewise, Eric Weems replacing injured KR Devin Hester seemingly can’t hurt, unless Weems can’t hold on to the ball. Weems is a different style. ‘‘He’s a little bit more north/south, a strong up-the-field player,’’ Dave Toub said. Seattle’s Leon Washington had an NFL-record eighth KO-return TD against the Dolphins last week. The Bears are second in punt coverage and fifth in KO coverage. They are the only team in the NFL that has not allowed a 40+ KO and 20+ punt.